Nearly 300 people gathered at a rally in Bega on Saturday to protest on a range of social and environmental issues.
The topics covered at the Enough is Enough rally included justice for Indigenous Australians, global warming, protecting workers’ rights and wages, refugees, the environment and forests, social housing, as well as funding for health, education and social services.
Protesters carried placards with slogans such as “Defend rights at work”, “Community not corporations”, “End live export” and “Kill your egosystem, grow our ecosystem”.
Midway between all the speeches on a stage at Littleton Gardens those at the rally marched along Carp St to Member for Bega Andrew Constance’s office to show their objection to the Liberal Government’s current vision of Australia, blocking traffic on the road for a short time.
Gweagal activist Rodney “Murrum” Kelly spoke about his vision for the Bega Valley, which involved educating people about the history of the local traditional owners.
“Once everybody knows the true history, true history from our mouths, that’s when this place will be a better place,” he said.
He said it would be incredible if there was a keeping place in Bega or a museum focusing on the traditional owners.
We want to make sure we say Enough is Enough when it comes to the poverty and inequality that exists.Mick Brosnan
The Social Justice Advocates Of The Sapphire Coast's Mick Brosnan gave a speech on inequality and housing.
“We want to make sure we say Enough is Enough when it comes to the poverty and inequality that exists,” he said.
“My main concern with housing is not only the lack of it, it is we have morphed it into an economic problem.
“It is a social problem, it is a human problem.”
He said there was a need for crisis housing in the shire and also called for more support for the disadvantaged and disabled in the community through guaranteed funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
NSW Nurses and Midwives Association’s Di Lang said currently an aged cared resident receives about two-and-a-half hours of care per day.
“That’s disgusting, it should be closer to five hours a day,” she said.
She was calling for “adequate numbers of staff” in aged care facilities as well as more nurses in the public health system.
“I think we need a union behind us in my industry because we can’t get anything out of people who want to make a profit,” Ms Lang said.
“We need to change the way we deliver care.
“Change the rules, join your union.”
Robyn Martin of Bega Valley Rural Australians for Refugees said Bega Valley Shire Council had joined other councils across the nation in becoming a refugee welcome zone.
“Unfortunately our national policies are not reflecting this spirit,” she said.
The Refugee Council of Australia reports since the beginning of offshore processing, Australia has sent 3127 people to Nauru or Papua New Guinea, with about half of that number still remaining in offshore detention as of this year.
Ngarigo and Djiringanj elder Ellen Mundy spoke about identity, saying “Aboriginal” and “Indigenous” were terms introduced to Australia by Europeans, so she does not identify as either of these titles.
“Djiringanj and Ngarigo is my true identity,” she said.
“Not these generic titles the government wants to label us with.”
In his speech, senior ecologist at the National Parks Association of NSW Oisin Sweeney blasted the state and federal governments’ approach to environmental policy.
“The last five years have seen unprecedented attacks on nature and the laws that are there to protect nature,” he said.